Incorporate circles, especially in India, the role of Human Resources leaders is sometimes viewed as being an administrative, almost supportive one. The implication is that in a business-as-usual scenario, the CHRO, unlike his peers in Marketing or Finance, isn’t often called for to lead from the front. Operating within a familiar lattice of policies and procedures, he has supposedly less arduous targets to fulfill, and consequently, suffers fewer sleepless nights throughout the year. But the global pandemic of COVID-19 has turned this narrative, debatable as it is, on its head. From companies that employ 50 professionals to behemoths deploying a thousand times that number, HR leaders have been put under an unprecedented and relentless level of strain. Companies have to move swiftly to a trajectory of economic viability while keeping their workforce healthy and motivated. Amid the bleak economic outlook, wage-cuts, and down-sizing, the present crisis also presents opportunities for revisiting the ways of working and engaging with employees, which may have outlived their purpose.
Employer – Employee Expectations
In this component of the study, stakeholders were invited to state what they felt were the top expectations of employees from their bosses – and vice versa – in a post-COVID paradigm. The same set of expectations are repeated across both employers and employees, underscoring the need for reciprocity between the two groups. For 50% of the respondents, emotional intelligence and empathy topped the list.
The stakeholders were asked to choose from and rank what they felt were the top skills needed by employees in a post-COVID world, from a superset of 24 signature strengths. Curiosity, defined as the ability to not only cope with ambiguity to like it and be intrigued by it, was ranked highest by 45% of the respondents. Fairness, love of learning, perseverance, teamwork, and perspective also featured in the skills basket.
In this part of the study, stakeholders were asked to deliberate on what they felt would be the required mindset for the workforce of the future. They were asked to score the importance of three specific constituents – self-esteem, resilience, and grit, on a scale of 1 to 10. The scores across all three elements were high. Self-Esteem received an average score of 8.44, while Resilience ranked higher, at a mean score of 8.78. Grit topped the list, with an average score of 8.89.
Across the board, a clear position emerges among HR leaders: the old frameworks, policies, and procedures will no longer work, going forward. Arriving at new frameworks for a post-COVID paradigm requires CHROs not only to invest afresh in employees but introspect and reorient themselves to the unfolding uncertainties of the future.